The Real Horror of the First Episode of ‘True Detective‘ Was the Bad Comedies in the Research Station’s DVD Library
Good news for fans of graphic murder and unrelenting existential dread, HBO’s True Detective just returned for a fourth season. Thankfully, each season is its own self-contained story, meaning that True Detective: Night Country is about an entirely new crop of characters, and doesn’t follow an aging Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as they investigate the evils of vaccines and the sleek performance of the new Lincoln SUV.
The mystery at the heart of Night Country concerns the baffling disappearance of several scientists from a remote Alaskan research station. When Detective Jodie Foster arrives on the scene, she quickly discovers that a DVD of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is stuck in some kind of a loop, playing the famous parade scene over and over again.
We also get a glimpse of a shelf containing the other DVDs that have been made available to the scientists. Upon closer examination, this shelf may be more horrifying than anything else in a show full of frozen corpses and severed tongues.
Sure, Ferris Bueller is a banger, and it looks like they also have copies of acclaimed films like L.A. Confidential and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring — not to mention a VHS copy of John Carpenter’s The Thing, which was clearly a key influence on the season. (While one might assume that a film about an alien monster terrorizing researchers in a remote, arctic facility would be the last thing these guys would want to watch on TV, there have actually been reports of real life South Pole scientists regularly throwing Thing parties).
But it’s the station’s comedy selection that is truly alarming. If Foster’s character is looking for a clue as to why several formerly sane individuals seemingly went mad and fled the safety of their shelter for an assuredly painful icy death in a snowy wasteland, might we suggest Kangaroo Jack?
Yeah, these poor souls are totally isolated, cut off from their friends and family, and one of their few lifelines to the outside world is a Jerry O’Connell movie about a kangaroo with a pouch full of mob money? The one that deceived America with a trailer that implied that said kangaroo would be a sassy rapper, and not merely a tortured marsupial?
Many of the other options are equally dispiriting, including two Robin Williams movies. No, not Dead Poets Society or The Fisher King, or hell, even Hook — whoever was in charge of keeping these scientists sane stocked their film library with the notorious bomb Death to Smoochy and License to Wed, the movie in which Williams spends 91 minutes cock-blocking John Krasinski. Forget whatever Lovecraftian horrors are on the horizon for the show, this is truly the comedy equivalent of staring into the cosmic abyss.
How did this happen? The research station is chock-full of technologically advanced equipment, possibly as part of a mission to probe the deeper mysteries of the origin of life itself, but then some staff member spent a total of 30 seconds grabbing DVDs from the Best Buy bargain bin to create a physical media library worthy of a shitty Airbnb?
Then again, since the first season of True Detective was packed full of hidden details that foreshadowed major plot developments, it’s entirely possible that these movies were not haphazardly assembled, but rather, contain secret parallels to future events in the series. So, does this mean that fans will start combing through Death to Smoochy frame-by-frame looking for clues? Time is a flat circle… with a hole in the middle… containing the 2003 film Kangaroo Jack.
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